WALLA WALLA – The Walla Walla County Department of Community Health is warning residents that unhealthy air from wildfire smoke will fill the region into the weekend. Initially, the National Weather Service had called for the advisory to end at noon tomorrow. Air quality is at the maroon level on the Air Quality Index, hazardous.
DCH stated that the smoke itself has produced an unanticipated strong inversion that was not factored into the earlier forecast models. Current predictions call for air quality to begin to improve Saturday, beginning on the western side of the state. Meanwhile, Walla Walla first responders report a number of calls to people experiencing difficulty in breathing.
Health officials are urging everyone to stay indoors, do only light activities, and keep windows closed if possible. Air conditioners should be run on re-circulate with the outside air intake closed. Indoor air cleaners with HEPA filters are recommended. Those who must be outdoors should wear an N-95 respirator mask.
People with chronic diseases should consult their health care providers before wearing a mask. In addition, those with asthma, lung and heart disease, or those who have suffered a stroke should seek advice from a health professional as to whether they should leave the area. Anyone with shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain, heart palpitations, extreme fatigue, or having difficulty moving or speaking should call 911.